123: How do you get from one God to a three-in-One God? How do you relate to a God like that? Is it important that the Father and the Son are not confused? How much of what I believe is church tradition? Here are snippets of my journey, which to my greatest surprise has stumbled over some answers.
When I did my theology diploma in 2002, we had the privilege of inviting Bob Mumford to teach us about the love of the Father, the agape love, totally unconditional. Love without a hook.
I wish I could have asked him about a passage I read this morning in John 16...
Jesus is talking to his disciples:
"The Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God..."
Then Jesus' disciples said, "now you are speaking plainly and without figures of speech".
As a believer in Jesus and follower of him, I am relieved to still be on the benefiting end of this conditional love. But hang on a second, did I just say "conditional love"?
(Anyone just dropping by the blog - my above statement does not summarise my religious beliefs)
This statement warrants some explanation. I believe that John is unpacking Jesus' message after decades of meditation and revelation of what happened during those three short years by means of God's Spirit. Apart from the vine, you whither (John 15:6). For me these chapters have been tremendously helpful this week in re-centering my faith in God and his incredible Son.
But is God's love truly to be understood as universal and unconditional? Or only in the sense that it is available for anyone who loves (friendship love; agape is not specified) the son and believes that he came from God? The trickiest thing about the way John puts this or remembers this is that it seems to imply that the friendship-love initiative or onus is placed on the believer.
What do you think? If you are a believer, have you embraced a readily available love or a real, already active love? Could we have here is a fascinating complimentarity between the agape and phileo love?
Agape seems to not be a full expression of all God has for us! It is wonderful - but it is general, unspecific, lacks the unique richness of phileo.